Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Simple living

At mass the other week, the priest told us that he had to attend to two burial masses the week before. The first mass was for a senior citizen who passed away at the age of 105. She died in her sleep at their ancestral and from old age. The priest was astounded at how long she lived. According to her children, their mother who stayed in the province ate mostly chicken, fish and vegetables and did not care about the stressors in life. She raised 7 children in accordance to what they had in the family.

The second mass was for a 40 year old man who kept himself totally fit at a very exclusive gym. He had a discount card to purchase all the supplements and muscle building protein shakes his body could take. He was a top executive at one of the biggest companies and was always on the go. He lived life, literally, to the edge. He collapsed during the workout, apparently had a massive coronary, and was dead right where he juiced up a sweat - in the gym. He left a 10 year old son from an estranged wife.

I remember my grandparents and some of the other senior citizens who grew up in the digital dinosaur age, the latter being a term of endearment from the younger crowd today for those who are not into technological gadgets. Obviously, there are commercials that make "lolo and lola" seem to catch up with technology, but let's face it, as my mom would say - "I don't need additional stressors in life".

Over the last two decades, technological advancement has made the world evolve at an excruciatingly rapidly phase. Mobile gadgets have evolved from touch screen to air shuffling. What was once sci-fi in the movies is now at our fingertips. And while many (if not most) of us are busy exploring the advances in technology and how to keep up with it, back at home it's a different story.

Kids have grown up differently. With all the advertisements and endorsements with the take home message of "buy me" or "you need me", the youth have engaged themselves in more materialistic goods. Being hip and chic with the crowd is cool and sassy. We're all into a wow factor or those being in a situation where we have our "moments". Trending has become the word of the day and "selfie" the pic of the week. Bullying has become a fad, hashtags (#) have become a following. Kids don't use the library anymore. Googling has become an accepted term for searching and "copy and paste" has become synonymous to plagiarism. Where Facebook is not just a fad but a must. Where "twitting" is your daily shout out and "Siri" is now your secretary on the go.

I grew up in the era of transition.

Where my childhood years were spent running in the beach or walks along Roxas Boulevard. Where birthdays would be a frugal celebration with my family. Where a surprise gift would be a spankingly new book to read or a set of Matchbox cars. Where watching a movie would be one of the best treats to a holiday. Where a new shoe or school uniform would come every other year.

As I hit college, the transition began. By the time I finished med school, technology had taken over. There was the beeper from EasyCall and the malls were finally booming at a rapid pace. Glorietta became the hip place to be. SM once a lessee now became a lessor. People began to travel more. The mobile phones came as large gadgets that looked more like war toys than the iPhones we have today.

Thirty years have passed since I graduated from med school. And the times have quickly changed. Not only the landscape of treatment in medicine but even in the academe. Today, each student has access to the internet and must be technologically savvy or is left behind. And the gears they carry include unlimited surfing with an android phone, a tablet and a state-of-the-art laptop. Some of the younger, more techie professors try to catch up with their students, who, definitely are a mile ahead of them in terms of technology.

The malls have sprouted in every nook and cranny of the metropolis and dormitories are now chic, boutique looking, spic and wifi capable. Where fast food junk has become the staple food and commercialism of every occasion the rule.

Patients who come in are now armed with more information at the palm of their hands - sometimes, more than what the doctor can handle. And with HMO care, some doctors rush to see patients in less than 60 seconds.

Life has become one hurried, harried, phase in our lives. Many have forgotten the meaning of making a life because they're more engrossed in making a living. With only 24 hours a day, many of us want more time.

More time...we toil to make more money so we can satisfy our material wants. As a friend of mine would say - "luho". And when materialism gets the most out of us, we become different people - much like a Jekyll and Hyde. Many spiral out of control. The more we make, the more we want. And the vicious cycle becomes disproportionate to the lives we were meant to live. In the equation of making a living, some of us learn to even question religion and drop God from the equation. There is no Sunday mass any longer. We make time for beautifying our skin or dumping money for a make-over but leer at the poor boy who sells "sampaguita" in the rain.

I've had really bad days in my life. For those who know my life story, I've had some of the worst days.

But I've had better days in my life as well. It's the bad days that keep me grounded to simple living. That money is there to earn but it is also there to spend. That materialism will get us a shot at fame, but at a price we dearly pay for.

If you took the time out to read this quite lengthy blog, you should have spent about 5 minutes going over what I said. Take another 5 minutes and reflect on your past and compare your life today. Then take another 2 minutes to hug your mom, dad, wife, husband, children or significant other for a minute and say how lucky you are that they are part of your life.

Those, my friend were the best 12 minutes of your life. And if you liked the 12 minutes spent, think about how far simple living would bring you.

[photo from]

No comments: